Asia Times - What should Huawei users fear?

Many foreign users are concerned that they will not be able to use their Google applications on Huawei smartphones after August 19

Asia Times – What should Huawei users fear?

The Chinese technology giant Huawei can make the transition from the Android operating system, which is currently used in Huawei smartphones, to its own operating system (OS) Hongmeng within six months. The transition can be carried out with the support of China’s vast domestic market, according to Chinese information technology experts, writes Jeff Pao in an article for the Asia Times publication.

“In a market economy, companies usually reluctantly change products. But within the framework of a planned economy, such as in China, if the government orders phone manufacturers to switch to a local OS, such an OS can be successfully adapted within a short period of time, ”said Wong Kam-fi, an expert from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Considering that the Hongmeng OS development project is an open platform in which different developers can participate together, the product adaptation time may be about six months, Wong Kam-fi added.

Huawei was in the center of attention of the world community since last week it and its 70 branches included in the blacklist of the US Department of Commerce for ‘Activities Contrary to US National Security..’ On Monday, May 20, Google Discontinued Huawei’s Hardware, Software, and maintenance.

Google Discontinued Huawei’s Hardware, Software, and maintenance

On Tuesday, May 21, the US Department of Commerce granted Huawei a temporary license to purchase American goods until August 19, 2019. On Wednesday, Google representatives said the company will continue to work with Huawei for 90 days. Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said Tuesday that the 90-day license is redundant because the company is ready to make independent deliveries if it is denied the purchase of US hardware and software. According to PRC media reports, the chief executive of Huawei Consumer Business Group, Richard Yu, recently stated in WeChat that Huawei has a “plan B”, which provides for the use of its own chipset and operating system.

Experts said that Huawei chips belong to the Kirin series, developed by HiSilicon – a subsidiary of Huawei. The Huawei operating system is called Hongmeng. The names of these two products are related to Chinese mythology, since Kirin or Qilin in Mandarin is a mythical one-horned beast, and Hum Men is a metaphor of the “original world, primitive chaos” in Chinese myths about the creation of the world.

Since 2012, Hongmeng has been headed by a professor at the Jiao Tong Chen Haibo University Software School in Shanghai. The OS was created based on the Linux operating system. Recently, Richard Yu said that the Huawei OS will be available in the fall of 2019 or early spring 2020. The Chinese OS is compatible with all Android applications installed on phones, computers, tablets, TVs, cars and wearable devices.

“Hongmeng will look and work like Android so that users can easily adapt to the OS. The user-friendly interface is what Hongmeng is aiming for, as it will help improve user acceptance,” said Wong Kam-fi.

In the short term, Huawei will inevitably incur losses if it has to abandon Android and switch to Hongmeng, but in the long term, the company can win because its own operating system can increase user loyalty in developing countries, especially along the infrastructure projects route “One Belt – One Way “.

In 2018, Huawei launched 200 million smartphones, which is 31% more than in 2017 (153 million). About half of Huawei’s smartphones were shipped abroad, mainly to countries in the EU, East Asia, and Latin America. Huawei is the number one smartphone retailer in Russia. Globally, Huawei ranks second after Samsung and Apple.

In China, Huawei smartphones are running Android, which for reasons of national security does not support Google applications such as Google Chrome, Google Maps, YouTube or Gmail, as well as Facebook and WhatsApp. Citizens of China use alternative applications such as Baidu, Gaode Maps AutoNavi and WeChat Tencent, which were specially created for Chinese users.

What should Huawei users fear
What should Huawei users fear

Many foreign users are concerned that they will not be able to use their Google applications on Huawei smartphones after August 19, while at the same time it will be difficult for them to switch to alternative Chinese applications due to language and geographical barriers.

In fact, before Chinese firms can provide users with applications equivalent to Google, foreign users of Huawei smartphones will not be disconnected from Google, since they will be able to use YouTube and Google Maps and Gmail via the Baidu browser. Honorary Chairman of the Information Technology Federation of Hong Kong, Francis Fong Po-Kyo pointed out the low probability that Hongmeng will be able to replace Android in the short term since Android supports thousands of popular mobile applications.

If users find that they cannot use or update their favorite apps on Hongmeng, then they can switch to other smartphones, says Phong Po-kyu. “Such a development could be disastrous for Huawei,” he added.

However, in the short term, not only Huawei will suffer, but also US application vendors. Wong Kam-fay believes that many US application developers will eventually find alternative ways to keep Huawei running continuously because they don’t want to lose their share in this market. In the long run, these US application developers can leave the US if they want their products to be used on Huawei smartphones, Wong Kam-fi said. In addition, Chinese application developers will gradually catch up with their competitors, seeking to provide better applications to their foreign users.